A judge in Brazil has overturned a 18-year-ban on conversion therapy, sparking controversy across the country.
Judge Waldemar de Carvalho issued an injunction in favor of evangelical psychologist Rozangela Justino, one that negates a Federal Council of Psychology decision forbidding licensed therapists from trying to "cure" homosexuals.
“This decision is a big regression to the progressive conquests that the LBGT community had in recent decades,” openly gay city councillor David Miranda told The Guardian, adding that Brazil is suffering from "a wave of conservatism."
In 2009, Justino told Folha de S Paulo that homosexuality was a “disease” and directed patients to seek religious guidance. “I feel directed by God to help people who are homosexual.”
After she was caught providing reparative therapy in 2016, her license was revoked.
The council insists Judge de Carvalho's decision “opens the dangerous possibility of the use of sexual reversion therapies,” and promises to appeal. Its ban has survived other legal challenges, and even a proposed measure in Congress.
“There is no way to cure what is not a disease,” said council president Rogério Giannini. “It is not a serious, academic debate. It's a debate connected to religious or conservative positions.”
Brazil's record on LGBT rights is complicated: While marriage equality arrived in 2013, more than 40% of all anti-LGBT violence in the world occurs there. (On average one gay or trans person is murdereed every day.) The country has also seen a rise in evangelicalism that permeates politics—right-wing lawmakers routinely making crass, homophobic statements. (In January Marcelo Crivella, the mayor of Rio, claimed homosexuality http://www.newnownext.com/mayor-rio-marcelo-crivella/01/2017/is caused by botched abortions.)
After the ruling was announced, hashtags like #curagay (“gay cure”) started trending in Brazil, and social media users expressed their outrage. On Instagram, Pop star Anitta said the government should focus on addressing Brazil's problems, not persecuting LGBT people.
“People dying, hungry, the government killing the country with corruption, no education, no hospitals, no opportunities," she wrote, "and the authorities are wasting their time to announce that homosexuality is a sickness."